Like a Sitting Duck

Like a Sitting Duck

As I farm, I learn more and more about the meaning behind common English phrases.  Today, “Like a Sitting Duck” became more obvious to me.  The above photo is what I found this morning.  Our two male ducks were in an area that had been covered in netting until last winter’s snowstorm took the netting down.  So I had strung yarn across this area because my understanding is that eagles will not go in an area with less than 6 feet of air space because of their large wing span.  This worked for ~5 months.  You do not know if a plan works until it fails sometimes.  The remaining duck was freaked, trapped in the pen where he watch his brother being eaten.  I had to catch hom (terrorizing him further) and put him in with a damaged female duck in the barn.  He is so traumatized, he was not even interested in having sex with her.

Surviving ducks

After this happened, there was another near-crisis.  Our two peafowl are never separated, since their hatching.  After I got the ducks situated I noticed the blue one was alone, and was calling to his sibling without response.  I started panicking that the other one had been eaten like the duck.  Or (because they sometimes go in the backyard) by a beagle.  So I searched around and found him/her (not sure still what it is) in the hay loft (where they have been living even after we filled it with hay bales).  Not sure why she/he separated from his/her brother and caused him such grief.  I am thinking about calling them Tweedledee and Tweedledum.  What do you think?

tweedledee and tweedledumb

Finally, this may be the culprit in the duck murder.


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The Great Green Bean Debate

pole beans

Tom and I have differences of opinions regarding green beans.  I prefer purple beans because they are easier to pick, and Tom prefers green ones because he thinks they taste better.  I prefer very long poles for the beans that reach up to the sky, and Tom prefers poles where you can actually reach the beans to pick them.  I prefer pole beans because they are easier to pick, and Tom prefers bush beans because he thinks they taste better (notice a theme?).  So we have come to somewhat of a compromise.  We plant both purple and green pole beans and green bush beans.  And we use poles (from our bamboo patch) that range from 5 – 8 feet tall.  I preferentially pick the pole beans, and he picks the bush beans.

The problem is that there are times when Tom is occupied for several days in a row and does not have time to pick his bush beans. I cannot stand to see food go to waste so I bend over pick the bush beans and mess up my back.  So I came up with a bush bean picking device that helps a lot.

chairI do not have to bend over to pick the beans, and I am at bean level so it is easier to see them for picking.  And we are going to have a lot of beans this year.

chair and beansTrying to work smarter here at Schoonover Farm.

PS  It has rained 2 inches here in roughly the last 2 days, per Grampa’s rain gauge.  This is after only 0.25 inches here in all of July.  We desperately need it for the wildfires on the other side of the mountains and here for our pastures.



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Winthrop Blues 2014


first plume

This is our eleventh year attending the Winthrop Rhythm and Blues.  It is the one place where we can let loose and party.  This year was different though.  It is hard to put into words the feelings there: eerie, surreal, hairy, scary, sad, worrisome and/or spooky.  The first sign of trouble came in the photo above.  We had packed Bluesie up and looked into the fire situation.  We knew there were fires near Entiat but did not know of any in the Methow valley.  In  fact, Tom had looked at the Inciweb site and no fires were listed in the area on Thursday morning.  So we drove the North Cascades pass and admired the views until the above plume came into site.  Here it is a little closer.

more plume


We were told when we pulled into the Blues Ranch that the fires were moving away from us (which made sense since the winds were heading west to east) but also that they were about to turn off the power.  We also found out all the roads out of Winthrop were closed except the North Cascades Highway.  So we settled into our camp site and walked around.  Here is the smoke above the campground that evening.

smoke over campsite

Thursday evening plume

I did not get photos of the flames on the hillsides that night.  The next morning we had heard that Pateros had burned badly, near Alta Lake.  This is where we have camped several years.  Our hearts were really saddened by this news, and the news of all the houses in the area burning as well.  We worried about the orchard we get our peaches from every year.  We worried about the orchard we get our crabapples from.  We worried about our friends’ homes in the area.  Our internet service was off and on, likely from the fire so it was hard to get accurate news.  Here is the largest plume Friday morning.

Friday plume

We walked into Winthrop to check it out.  The power was still out and all the restaurants and bars were closed, including our favorite Three Fingered Jacks.  Several of the business were open without lights, air conditioning or internet access for credit card payments.  We did our best to support the local businesses there. The fire information line posted in Winthrop was always busy so of no help.  Here is a photo of Winthrop at the time.  It is hard to appreciate the difference from usual.

powerless Winthrop

We returned to the ranch and noticed the smoke had worsened on the hills there.

Friday evening smoke

Here is the smoke beyond the beer garden.

smoke behind beer garden

Here is a beautiful sunset.


And here are the flames above the campground after dark.

flames above campgroundAnd here is a particularly large one.

fireThe next morning we did enjoy the music.  The organizers assured us that we were in no danger from the fires.  They had offered free camping with showers, potable water and food vendors for those that were displaced by the fire, about 100 people at that point.  It was obvious that a lot fewer people were attending the blues show this year.  There were a lot less campers and  a lot less motorcycles in particular.  But we decided to enjoy it as best we could, since we could not do anything to stop the fires.  Here is the first performer David Vest.

David Vest

Here is Doctorfunk.


And here is the Soul of John Black.

Soul of John Black

We took a quick portapotty break and I took this photo of these flags with the smoke behind.

smoke and flags

Next we saw Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings,

Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings

we ate dinner at our camp kitchen,

camp kitchen and then saw Charlie Musselwhite.

Charlie Musselwhite

The last show of the day was the Royal Southern Brotherhood.

Royal Southern Brotherhood

The next day we awoke to more scary smoke plumes.

Saturday plume

We sat down to enjoy David Vest and then Homemade Jamz.

TomHomemade Jamzsmoking guitarmuffler guitarRyan Perry and Ann

Above is a photo with the guitarist Ryan Perry and our friend Ann with Jeff in the background taking a photo.  Below they are dancing.

Ann and Jeff dancing

We then saw the Chris O’Leary Band.

Chris Oleary Band

The winds had shifted and were now from the east to the west.  So that was worrisome about the fires heading our direction but the more immediate concern was that the smoke came our way.

smokesmoke_2orange sunTom and Ann in Methow RiverAbove is Tom and Ann in the smoky Methow River, cooling off.  The Holmes Brothers played next as the skies got darker.

Holmes Brothers

oranger sun

Fortunately for us (but not for the people out east) the winds shifted again and the smoke cleared out.  We then saw our favorite Too Slim and the Taildraggers play.

Too SlimToo Slim_2Jim PughPeter Damon and Too Slim

Here is a large flame on the hill Sunday night.

Sunday night flame

And finally here is a rock Ann made with rocks at our campsite before we all departed.

Anns rock heart



Here is a photo of Tom, me, Ann, Jeff, and Chad (another camping neighbor) in front of Bluesy the Floozy.

Banjo photo





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